The Watering Can - 6/30/2023

The Sun, the Solstice, the Shifting Season

The Summer Solstice has come and gone, and I swear some of the plants knew it immediately.

The scorching heat continues, and although we're not getting much rain, there does seem to be enough humidity lingering that things aren't getting extremely dried out and wilting. This June was better than last, but it still left a lot to be desired as far as total rainfall. We basically had to hope for one of the scattered showers to pass over us once or twice a week.

There haven't been many changes with the plants, once again mostly trying to keep things alive more than anything. The red pepper powder, along with the little bit more moisture, seems to have slowed down whatever had been digging up the plants around the South Prairie and elsewhere.

That being said there were a few key changes, including a couple of nice surprises.

Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

One of the three species in the Dry Patch of the South Prairie, this one plant in particular has really thrived since going in the ground, I think due to being in a spot that holds a little bit more moisture. I thought that all of these wildflowers were going to be spending this year growing roots, not flowering, so imagine my surprise when buds started appearing! I've been watching it closely since then, and wouldn't you know it, today we finally had a bloom!

The newly opened golden yellow bloom of a Lanceleaf Coreopsis in front of a blanket of green grass Our first Lanceleaf Coreopsis bloom after planting this year

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

These three are also in the Dry Patch of the South Prairie, and one in particular is quite a bit taller than when it was planted, and even taller than the Watering Can itself now. It's encouraging that these three are looking so good when the Purple Coneflower and the non-blooming Lanceleaf Coreopsis are all looking a bit sad, I think mostly due to being dug up repeatedly.

A pretty tall Black-eyed Susan rosette begins to tower over the watering can The most successful of the three Black-eyed Susan plants in the Dry Patch — already taller than the Watering Can!

Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

After a few weeks of solid growth, the Ranch elderberry appears to have been eaten on pretty significantly by one or more deer. I'm sure it's established enough at this point that it will recover nicely, but it's a good reminder that I need to be spraying these plants with Liquid Fence as well after watering them.

Black Willows (Salix nigra)

All of the Willows continue to do well, and Willow 1's latest guest, the Viceroy caterpillar, emerged from its chrysalis and left sometime this weekend. I'd been keeping a close eye on it, but it must have come out very early one morning or overnight and by the time I checked it again, I noticed it was empty! Still, happy to have the first of hopefully many large caterpillars pupating here on this keystone species.

An empty Viceroy caterpillar pupa's shell The empty chrysalis hangs from its limb on Willow 1

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Well, well, well. Look who decided to join the party! I'm not sure why, but right after the Solstice two tiny new leaves started emerging, and now there's already three little clumps of new growth on this one limb. What a nice surprise!

The small new leaves of an Eastern Redbud

It was a late update this week, mainly due to my back and hip still feeling pretty bad until Thursday. But I'm feeling strong again and was able to carry the watering can around a good bit without feeling completely exhausted, even with the heat. So that was nice.

For the next update I hope to review some of the plants I have in pots, and what some of the plans for those are for now. Especially since I've been watering these more than anything these last couple of weeks!